"Probabilities and Possibilities of Prayer"
November 16, 2013
(God said) "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me." Psalm 50:15
"Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations."
Although he didn't write it, history has learned to call that prayer, "Patton's Prayer." It was written by Army Chaplain Monsignor James O'Neill. It was December of 1944 and things were not going well for the American troops who were fighting in Europe. The foot soldiers had been slowed down by rain and a fog so thick they could only see a few feet in front of them. The tanks were getting stuck in the mud and the Air Force, because they couldn't see their targets, didn't bother to take off.
Feeling that the Germans were preparing a major offensive, General George Patton asked the chaplain to write out a prayer for good weather. O'Neill took the order seriously and wrote the words at the beginning of this devotion.
Patton liked the prayer and ordered the printing of a quarter million copies which were to be given to every soldier in the Third Army. By December 14th, the cards had been handed out. On December 16th as Patton had calculated, the Germans broke through the American lines and were poised for a major victory. On December 20th, six days after the prayer cards had been handed out, the rain stopped, the fog disappeared, the ground began to dry, and the tanks began to roll. During the Christmas week thousands of Army Air Force bombing runs were made and the Nazi push was stopped.
That's the story. Now that you've heard it, let me ask do you believe the requested change in the weather was God's answer to prayer?
Now, while you're thinking about your answer, let me tell you what Patton thought. As he was discussing the matter with Chaplain O'Neill, the general admitted that military operations depend upon plans and hard work. "But," Patton added, "between the plan and the operation there is always an unknown. That unknown spells defeat or victory, success or failure. Some people call that getting the breaks; I call it God. God has His part or margin in everything ...."
So, back to the question: What do you think? Did God change the weather? I think if I could have you write to me with your opinion, the vast majority of our Daily Devotion folk would say something like, "Absolutely, the Lord performed a miracle for General Patton. God wanted the soldiers of Christian America to defeat the unbelieving Nazi regime."
Of course, there are those, perhaps the majority of Americans, who would say, "This is a bunch of superstitious mumbo jumbo. You don't need God to get a change in the weather. It changes all the time, all on its own. What happened was going to happen and prayer simply isn't necessary."
Now the effectiveness of prayer is something I can't prove in an empirical sort of way. What I can do is say this: Scripture and history record numerous times when prayer has changed things. Indeed, there are times today when God's answer to prayer has produced what I call a miracle. This is why I trust God when He says, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee and thou shall glorify Me."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, You have promised to hear me when I pray. Grant that I may be as faithful in praying and believing as You are in listening. In the Name of Jesus I ask this and all my prayers. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries